College Hardwood: Crunching the Numbers

Paul McGuillicuddyAnalyst IDecember 30, 2008

What’s in a number?

Some will tell you numbers don’t lie.  While others will point out how numbers can be manipulated.

In the coming weeks college basketball fans will have a chance to see how numbers play out on the hardwood.

For example tomorrow night the team with the number one scoring offense in the country, VMI, hosts the Richmond Spiders. 

The Virginia Military remember them.  The Keydets opened their 08-09 campaign with a 111-103 victory over—that’s right—Kentucky.  VMI leads the nation with 99 points per game, 13 trifectas per game, and 16 steals.

Richmond, on the other hand, makes 50 percent of their shots from the field—good for seventh in the land.

Anyone want to guess at the over/under for that matchup?

Circle Jan. 8 on your calendar.  That’s when the Washington State Cougars host the Golden Bears of California.  Washington State boasts the top defense in the country, holding teams to 48 points per game on 33.5 percent shooting from the field.

Cal is number one in three-point shooting converting 52.3 percent from behind the arc.

Tony Bennett’s Cougars will get tested again on Jan. 31 when they travel to Tucson to face the "Lute-less" Wildcats.  Arizona has the eighth-best field goal percentage at 50 percent, including 46 percent behind the arc.

Houston and Memphis should be an interesting Conference USA match.   Tom Penders’ Cougars averaged nine turnovers per game, best in the country.  Calipari’s Tigers grab 10 steals per game—10th in the nation.  The two do battle on Jan. 31.

Monday night, the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame and the Georgetown Hoyas will play a little truth or consequences. 

The Irish have been hitting at a rate of 41 percent from long-range (eighth in the country) for over 10 three's per game (fifth in the land).  The Irish have also protected the ball well, only turning it over nine times a game (No. 2 on the charts).

Meanwhile, the Hoyas are limiting opponents to 33 percent from the field.  Georgetown disassembled the UConn Huskies last night in an 11-point victory.  The Huskies usually convert 50 percent from the field.  Last night Calhoun’s corps hit 44 percent.

Big East battles this year should be a lesson in warfare under the boards.

Four teams from the nation’s top conference rank in the top 10 for rebounding margin—Cincinnati (No. 4; margin of 12), Pittsburgh (No. 7; margin of 10.5), and UConn and West Virginia are tied for ninth with a margin of 10 per game.

Jan. 10 brings a little truth serum.  Pitt plays at Morgantown (Hey Doug!  Can you score some tickets?  Are pictures a possibility?), and UConn ventures to Cincinnati.

Jan. 10 will give the remote control a workout.

In Atlantic Coast Conference action, the Clemson Tigers will host the North Carolina State Wolfpack.  Clemson drops 50 percent from the field, while the Wolfpack holds teams to 35 percent.

We should find out quite a bit about Clemson’s offense.  A week later, they host Wake Forest.  The Demon Deacs limit opponents to 36 percent shooting. 

When playing Clemson, the best defense could be an efficient offense.  The Tigers show multiple presses from full, three-quarter and half-court, and look to convert easy layups.  Opponents who can take care of the ball will take care of Clemson.

Purdue and Iowa present the Big Ten’s version of contrasting styles.

The Boilermakers hold opposing shooters to 34.9 percent (good for fourth).  Iowa has a three-point percentage of 40 percent, while hitting nine behind the stripe per game.

The Big Ten combatants face off on Jan. 18.

L.S.U. and Tennessee will collide Jan. 28 in Knoxville.

The Tigers have the number one rebounding margin at 13.3.  Tennessee is 13th with a 9.7 margin.

Trent Johnson’s Tigers dropped 9 of 20 from long range against the Washington St. Cougars. 

Hey Bruce!  Have you taught your kids how to defend the arc yet?  You only allowed 8 of 20 versus Temple and 9 of 22 to Belmont.  Geez, it’s not like you don’t start a bunch of long and athletic guards or anything.

Get ready college hoops' fans.  We have plenty of hunker down events in the near future.

43 days until Carolina—Duke.  Not that anyone is counting or anything.